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(Infographic) Myth-Busting the Modern Learner: Characteristics of Today's Workforce & How to Meet Their Learning Needs

June 13, 2018
By Jerrin Padre

Download Infographic

The term modern learner describes younger members of the workforce, especially Millennials and Gen Z.

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Answer: FALSE. Modern learners include all generations in today’s workforce.

Today’s workforce spans five generations—each with their own distinct learning style. As the workforce continues to diversify, L&D professionals struggle to find an effective way to facilitate employee learning. While there’s a plethora of research breaking down each generation and their respective learning styles, it’s important to recognize cross-generational similarities. Finding common ground not only gives L&D professionals a direction, it also reinforces a more informed, inclusive, and unified workplace.

Access the full infographic. Below are some highlights.

6 Characteristics of the Modern Learner

1. Motivated


No matter what generation they’re born into, the majority of today's learners hold an appreciation for setting and reaching meaningful goals. This appreciation is what motivates them to do good work.

2. Educated

educated5Modern learners love to learn (surprise, surprise!). They value their education and see it as a vehicle for continuing to develop their skills and levels of expertise.

3. Flexible
flexibleIt’s not just millennials who desire a flexible work schedule—Baby Boomers also appreciate special work arrangements such as self-imposed hours and telecommuting. As the lines between personal and professional blur, home and office converge. More and more individuals value the flexibility of learning when it’s convenient for them, or at times when they feel best able to focus on the material.

4. Mobile

Today’s workforce is mobile. 95% of Americans now own a cell-phone of some kind, and 77% are smart phone users.*  Learning is just another thing many people can do (and want to do) on this device.

5. Collaborative
When it comes to training, modern learners appreciate collaborative learning environments. This could manifest as anything from access to other learners, to in-person sessions led by an L&D professional, to acquiring managerial support.

6. Self-Directed
self directed
Modern learners like to have some sort of autonomy over their own learning, which makes sense because most know what they need to learn and how they’re best apt to learn it.

How To Cater To the Modern Learner

Now that we’ve rounded up all the similarities, here are 5 tips on how to incorporate them into employee training.

1. Make Learning Personal
make learning personal

In short, know your audience. Cater to generational differences if necessary, but try to focus on the areas of overlap. Then use those similarities to inform how you present the material.

2. Prioritize Quality Content
quality content

In an age where people can access their favorite TV shows and movies anytime, anywhere… there is no reason to make them suffer through boring, cheesy, or preachy training. Give ‘em a break!  Seek out content providers (like Media Partners) that engage learners through story-telling and high-end production value.

3. Make it Accessible

People often don’t think about what they need until they need it. Therefore, it’s important to make training accessible for employees so they can receive it quickly, intuitively, and at their point of need.

 4. Be Specific
be specific
The specificity of your learning programs is a tell-tale measure of your organization’s attention to different employee learning styles: the more specific, the higher the attention, which, ultimately, leads to higher employee engagement.

5. Empower Personal Fulfillment
personal fullfilment

Modern learners recognize the positive benefits certain types of training could have on their careers, but aren’t able to receive those benefits if the training isn’t made available to them. Provide training that considers your employees aspirations--you’ll be helping them (and the organization) reap the ROI.

At the end of the day, we have a lot more in common than we think. Remembering this will enable you to create learning and development opportunities that build understanding across your organization and your workforce. 

This infographic is the first asset in our new Modern Learner series. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more!

For content proven to connect with today's learners, be sure to check out these top-selling films:

"How Was Your Day?" Getting Real About Bias, Inclusion, Harassment and Bullying
Working With You is Killing Me Freeing Yourself from Emotional Traps at Work 
Right/Wrong to WIN/WIN: Peer-to-Peer Conflict Resolution

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